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Urgent Review of Longfin Eel Information Needed

Urgent Review of Longfin Eel Information Needed

Te Wai Māori today called on the Minister for Primary Industries to urgently review the information provided by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that has led to her to conclude that the longfin eel is on a path to extinction.

“In light of the seriousness of the Commissioner’s recommendation, this information requires urgent scientific analysis,” says Te Wai Māori chairman Ken Mair.

“In addition, given the long-term and ongoing significance of this iconic species for Māori, this review should include Māori expertise in the fishery,” Mr Mair added.

An enormous proportion of eel habitat has been drained, isolated, dammed or rendered unsuitable because of development. Drainage of swamps for farmland and removal of suitable riparian cover and flood plains comprise the biggest proportion of this loss. Some iwi have tried to be pro-active in their management of the fishery, through habitat restoration projects or fisheries management practices including leaving their quota unfished.

Te Wai Māori is actively involved in working with iwi on a variety of eel management projects that are proving practical in terms of species enhancement. The Trust has brought together customary and commercial eel sectors in the North Island to implement a joint pilot project focusing on elver recruitment, longfin migration and habitat restoration. The project helps each group access reliable information from the other and work together to influence the management of the eel fishery to ensure their ongoing survival. Each shares concerns about the impacts of habitat modification on the eel population.

Mr Mair said he agreed with the Commissioner that the Department of Conservation needed to do more to protect the habitat of the longfin eel.

“Te Wai Maori considers this to be an issue of national significance that should be reflected in the reform of freshwater management. Eels are a taonga and have been the lifeblood of many iwi and hapu for generations. Eel habitat must be protected as a priority. Eels are literally in the backyard of our whanau, hapu and iwi. Every effort must be made to ensure their survival,” Mr Mair said.

Te Wai Māori Trust was established in 2004 through the Māori Fisheries Act to advance Māori interests in freshwater fisheries, in relation to customary commercial and customary non-commercial freshwater fisheries. The Trust has a statutory role in promoting the protection and enhancement of freshwater fisheries habitats (lakes, rivers, and other water bodies), particularly those that have traditionally supported iwi and whose shores have been the location of their marae.

ENDS

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